A plan to create a route to connect the Capital Crescent Trail at Bethesda Row with Elm Street Park was approved Thursday by the Montgomery County Planning Board.

With construction projected to start in 2019, the Capital Crescent Surface Trail project will construct bike lanes along Bethesda Avenue and Willow Lane from the intersection of Woodmont and Bethesda avenues to Elm Street Local Park, according to the plans submitted by the county’s transportation department.

The development will provide an alternate route while the Capital Crescent Trail tunnel that will cross beneath Wisconsin Avenue is under construction.
The county is developing the tunnel because the light-rail Purple Line, now under construction, will require most of the space in the existing tunnel that had encompassed the trail underneath the Carr Properties project and Air Rights building on either side of Wisconsin Avenue. The section of the trail that ran through the tunnel and into Silver Spring was closed last year as construction on the light-rail line got underway.

The surface trail will connect the existing Capital Crescent Trail at Bethesda Row to the Elm Street Park area where it will rejoin the new segment of trail being constructed next to the Purple Line.

The bike lanes will run on the south side of the road west of Woodmont Avenue and on the north side east of Woodmont Avenue, with a signalized crossing to be installed at the Wisconsin Avenue intersection, according to planning board documents.

Project leaders were also granted a site plan amendment from the board, allowing for redevelopment of the plaza located at the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and Bethesda Avenue.


The proposed three-level plaza will function as a welcoming center, dining area, open space and gathering space. The lower level of the plaza would feature a bike rack, a public art wall, landscaping and seating.

The planning board approved the projects, but added a list of conditions developers must follow, including providing a minimum of 10,475 square feet of public open space at the plaza, 4,363 square feet of green cover and public art along an area retaining wall. A public art area will be located along an existing retaining wall and would be visible both from the north and south.

The planning board also asked developers to consider widening curb ramps on the north side of Bethesda Avenue to a minimum of 10 feet and installing special paving at the Woodmont and Bethesda avenues intersection to “enhance a plaza-like feel,” among other minor structural recommendations.